‘The Unwanted’ : Photographing The Homeless In Vegas

Over the past year, Thilde Jensen has made 3 trips to Vegas to work on her project ‘The Unwanted‘. The first trip she did alone and spent a month living out of a tiny RAV4 with all the seats ripped out and a small bed built so she could sleep on the passenger side of her car. The second trip I went with her and we lived out of a much larger and more luxurious Toyota Sienna minivan for about 3.5 weeks. This spring Thilde was one of twelve people awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography. We talked about it and decided that it made sense to make another trip back to Vegas to photograph the homeless again. Every trip she has made has opened more doors for her and the pictures she has gotten has been better and better. Our last trip spanned almost a month and it was by far the most intense trip yet.

Thilde’s work captures the raw intensity of street life in large format film. Rain and Lost in Syracuse.

When I think about our trips across the country and the time Thilde has spent pounding the pavement for pictures the word that comes to mind is ‘Hard’. I think there is a lot of people who think that anyone can take good photographs and that getting out there and doing the work is somehow easy. Thilde and I woke up every morning at 5 AM so that she could drive into town and be ready to photograph as soon as the sun came up. After dropping me off in Red Rock canyon to hike & freeclimb for several hours, Thilde would drive into Vegas and take pictures until the sun would be too high in the sky, and then we would break for lunch for a few hours. Every evening we would head back into Vegas to catch the late afternoon light for a second session. Our photography routine caused one day to blur into another. Our lack of hygiene and access to showers made both of us feel like we were essentially homeless and living out of our car. People in Vegas would start to make an effort not to look at us and give us a wider berth when walking by us and soon we began to understand how a lot of the people living on the street felt. The most shocking part of our journey was to experience first hand what I can only describe as the accelerated deterioration of our nation.

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In Dust We Trust : Burning Man 2016

Returning to Reno from the Playa this year Doug and I were high on life. This year had been the best burn yet and the desert had left us feeling raw to the bone. We had a bunch of food left over that we wanted to give to a homeless person. The first homeless guy we found could not accept any food as he had just had his last supper. He was dying of cancer and was headed to the hospital to be fitted with a feeding tube. Oh yeah, this is reality. Full of pain and suffering and death. Somehow after 10 days at Burning Man we had completely forgotten about the real world.

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It hit us like a ton of bricks.

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Kite Hydrofoiling :My Healthiest Addiction Yet

About 5 years ago I was first introduced to Hydrofoiling with a kite by my good friend Norman McGuire (forum name kiterider) from Montreal, Quebec. He didn’t know me well enough to know what a risk he was taking to let me use his fancy carbon fiber Carafino hydrofoils as I pretty much destroy everything I touch. I first tried it at the Magdalen Islands which is about 15 hours of driving and then a very long 6-hour ferry ride that costs more than most plane tickets I’ve bought. Over the years, I have been to the Magdalen Islands for about 2 weeks in the summer at least 5 times, and each time Norman would show up with a new hydrofoil to try. One year he told me it was time to go strapless. I thought he was nuts, no one is riding these things strapless. After a few hours of flailing around in the water like a Noob, I finally figured it out. I was hooked.

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When kiting with a hydrofoil you ride several feet above the surface of the water. It’s a unique feeling that is nearly silent, somewhat eerie and incredibly addicting.

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Turning 44 – How The Hell Did I Make It This Far?

As I laid in bed meditating this morning in the arms of my beautiful partner staring out into the surreal snow covered landscape I was left with this incredible feeling of gratitude.

How did I get here, how could my life possibly be so good?

Was it luck, hard work, did the universe finally reward me for decades of suffering? It’s really hard to tell.

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I’ve decided to take a different path than my father before me. I’ve decided to do what I love to do and nothing else. It has paid off big time in quality of life.

I consider myself a depression survivor. In many ways it’s kind of like being a survivor of something more like cancer, but for people who struggle with depression most of American’s attitude is ‘just get over it’. Not only is this incredibly unfair, it’s also unrealistic to judge others harshly for a condition that they really have little or no control over. I read a statistic online that said 50% of Americans will struggle with mental illness at some point during their life. If so many people suffer from it then why is there so little support and compassion for it?

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The Father That Almost Never Was

My son’s mother Marlo posted some old pictures on FB as a way to celebrate Father’s Day. One of the pictures was this one.

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It hit me like a freight train and out of nowhere I started to cry. How could a photo taken 12 years ago affect me so profoundly?

For those of you who have ever had a sick child on the verge of death, you will understand. Everyone else can just read this and wonder.

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Money As A Tool To Manipulate The Masses Into Indentured Servitude

Most people spend most of their waking hours working. Why?

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The carrot that drives most people to get up and go to work everyday is money. Money is great, you can use it to buy things to eat or use or experiences. What is money really?

Money essentially is a system of agreement for barter. It’s very difficult to function under a system of solely trade as the perceived value of the items you are trading are often wildly different. The value of an item can also change wildly from one person to the next. With money we have a system of agreement and everyone agrees that $1 has more or less the same value from one person to the next.

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How Transcendental Meditation Can Ease A Troubled Mind (aka How I Kept $2500 In My Pockets)

When I first met Thilde Jensen she encouraged me to try TM to help with my obsession and depressive nature. We have been together for 2 years now and committed to each other last summer. Meditation has become a daily habit for both of us, one that I hope we will carry with us to the end of our days. This is not a sales pitch for TM, honestly I feel like it’s a total scam, I am promoting the medical benefits of any meditation not just a single ‘brand’. Although Thilde and I have settled quite comfortably into doing TM, there are a lot of different styles of meditation each with their benefits and drawbacks. This is a story of my personal path.

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The TM style of meditation has been around since 1955 and seems to have changed very little throughout the years. The biggest change to the movement has been the price of the training. It has gone from being free to several thousand dollars for private instruction. So then the question becomes, why should I pay $2,500 for something that I can teach myself for free?

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